The Aces fell to #1 Chester 60-46 Friday night in a hard-fought District 1 Final at Villanova's Pavillion. LM was just the second team from Pennsylvania this season to hold a second half lead against the Clippers, but couldn't keep things going over the final eight minutes. Foul trouble, turnovers and poor free throw shooting doomed the Aces, who gave an otherwise impressive effort against one of the nation's top teams.
LM made it clear early that they were ready to play. Both teams traded baskets in a fast-paced first quarter that saw five lead changes. LM got a quick start from Yohanny Dalembert '13, who scored six first quarter points and controlled the defensive glass with five rebounds. Dalembert took a feed from JaQuan Johnson '14 and finished with an emphatic slam over the Clippers defense that sent the Dawg Pound -- more than 500 strong -- into a frenzy. BJ Johnson '13 got off to a good start as well, drilling a three from the corner and attacking the rim for two lay-ups. At the end of the first, Chester held a slim 18-16 lead.
Things got defensive in the second quarter, as the Aces ate clock and continued their dominance on the glass. Justin McFadden '14 took a charge and Raheem Hall '13 and JaQuan helped limit Chester's perimeter play. In the second, the Aces also started to get into foul trouble, with Dalembert, McFadden, Hall and Johnson all picking up their second fouls. Dalembert headed to the bench midway through the period with the Aces up 20-18 and Hall and the Aces reserves - led by Baird Howland '13 (5 points, 5 rebounds), kept things close to the end of the frame. With the clock winding down in the second and the Aces trailing by two, Hall found a streaking Jule Brown '15 for a layup to tie the game, then keyed a steal that turned into a Howland drive to the rim. However, Howland was called for a charge; Chester recovered and scored at the buzzer to lead 26-24.
The Aces surged to a 6-0 run out of the break and appeared to have Chester on their heels up 30-26 at the 5:40 mark. But the ensuing two minutes would prove decisive in shifting momentum to the orange jerseys. After a Chester trey, Dalembert was called for his third and fourth fouls on consecutive plays, sending the big man to the bench. Without Dalembert's interior presence, Chester began to take command of the backboards and used a 10-0 run to get some breathing room. In the fourth, the Aces had several chances to cut the Clippers' eight point lead, but continued to fire blanks from the free throw line (9-18) and beyond the arc (1-13). Chester pulled away and sailed to their third consecutive District crown.
Dalembert led the Aces with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks in three quarters of play. Johnson added 11 and Hall chipped in with 7 points and 5 assists.
The Aces (25-3) conclude a fantastic District run with a 4-1 record, advancing to the finals for the second year in a row. LM now turns its attention to the state playoffs, which begin next Saturday afternoon. The Aces will take on Carlisle of District 3. Time, location and ticket information to be announced later this week.